I spent my year working at an integrated marketing group called Ponderosa Group which is based in Otley, about fifteen miles from Leeds city centre. As I was based near Leeds, I was able to continue living in Hyde Park and commuted to Otley by car.
My role as an Account Executive involved supporting the Account Managers with their day to day tasks as well as liaising with creative and development teams. I worked closely with a variety of well known clients including Crabbie's Alcoholic Ginger Beer, Puma, WeightWatchers, Nectar and Genting Casinos. During my time as an Account Executive I was able to experience the running of a number of national press campaigns and the being part of the filming team for the Crabbie's Christmas TV commercial.
I truly feel like I’ve benefitted hugely from a year in industry in so many ways. At the end of my second year, I felt like I was lacking focus and didn’t know what direction I wanted to take. I was completely underprepared for the upcoming graduate scheme applications and also felt like I didn’t have enough experience to choose a career path. Therefore taking a year to work in the industry has definitely given me a clearer idea of a career path for the future. It allowed me to see what aspects of the role I was good at, and what parts did not suit my skills and personality. It gave me a clear insight into the industry which means that my decisions regarding my career will now be much more informed. Another key thing I learnt during my year out is that employers look for consistency of work experience and a genuine interest in the industry you’re looking to go into – ultimately you need to be able to answer the question ‘so why advertising?’ I also knew I needed to make my English degree relevant to the working world.
Despite my degree being held in high esteem by employers, I felt a year in advertising would highlight better my transferable skills. Now I can talk confidently in an interview about my experience of working well in a team and give a clear example of when I had to overcome a problem. I can chat easily with clients too, which is ultimately what an employer in advertising needs to know in order to hire you.
Studying Classical Literature and English at Leeds definitely helped me on my placement. I acquired so many new skills and also honed some of the ones I already had from studying English. From speaking in seminars, I had the confidence to articulate myself during client meetings. Some of the writing aspects completely challenged the way we’d learnt to write for essays, so I also had to re-familiarise myself with some basic skills such as writing succinct contact reports after meetings and learning the correct etiquette when emailing.
For anyone considering a taking a placement year my advice would be to do it. I would recommend to anyone who has a career in mind to take this year out and explore the industry you are interested in. Ultimately you have nothing to lose and will be more employable when you return for your fourth year.